Recently I asked the Lord to tell me what subject He wanted me to write about in my next monthly letter. Quick as a flash, a thought streaked across my mind: "The time is short!" -- It kind of shook me up for a moment.
I began to think: "Short? -- to do what?" It means our time is running out -- for whatever we had in mind.
Last week I received sad news of the sudden death of one of our young Ukrainian ministers in New Jersey. I said, "Lord, he's too young to die. We need him!" But no matter we think about his dying too soon, there is nothing he or we can do about it. His time is gone. Whatever he hoped to accomplish as a person, as a husband, a father, a pastor or as a neighbor, -- all opportunities are gone. Too late!
Paul tells us, "The time is short" (1 Cor. 7:29).
In other words, he's advising us that we don't have an unlimited period in which to accomplish things we know we should. Paul further says we should "redeem the time, because the days are evil" (Eph. 5:16). Evil? Yes, they are deceptive, leading us to feel as though we have plenty of time. What's the rush? "Later on, (so we say), "we shall read God's Word, attend church more regularly, forgive certain people, show love, be helpful, involve ourselves in God's work, etc., etc.." All of these important items may have passed through our minds, -- and we intend to do them. But when? How long do we wait? "The time is short!"
When Paul speaks of "Redeeming the time" -- it means: to utilize it wisely, to treat it as a most valuable commodity that must not be wasted. It also means, to "buy it up." How do you do that? It is done by giving up (exchanging) stupid, unimportant, worldly activities that waste valuable time, (time which can never be retrieved), and in their place make room for the accomplishment of things of eternal value.
The Apostle James, the Lord's brother, said, "Go to now, ye that say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:' Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (James 4:13,14).
Without further hesitation let us encourage ourselves and our people to take care of the important things in our life such as:
- 1. Our relationship with God. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength" (Isa. 40:31) "The people that do know their God shall be strong" (Dan. 11:32)
2. Our responsibilities to God. "If ye love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15) "Seek ye first the kingdom of God" (Mat. 6:33)
3. Our readiness for His coming "Watch and pray for ye know not when the time is" (Mk. 13:33)
- 4. Our fellowship with God's people "While they communed together...Jesus Himself drew near" (Lk. 24:15)
Our intention is, that sometime in the future we will do all these necessary things; but when? Barzillai asked, "How long have I to live?" (2 Sam. 19:34). Good question, but only God has the answer. Solomon provoked an easy-going sluggard, with "How long will you sleep?" (Prov. 67:9). Paul challenges the Church with, "It is time to awaken out of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed" (Rom. 13:11). Elijah faced Israel with the question: "How long halt ye between two opinions?" (1 Kings 18:21).
"The time is short" -- much shorter than what we think.